Once again a topic came to my mind and heart and it was because of hearing something on the radio. Last week, I forgot to say this, but that song – “True in the Light” played on the christian radio station as I was driving home from dropping off my daughter at school. The day before was when Jacki had talked about the concept in Sunday school. How could I pass up the opportunity?
This message is one that is preached more often than we hear it. “Those who have ears, let them hear!” Today, I want to talk about Holiness and Sanctification. I chose to come right out and say it because I’ve been in church enough to know that if I don’t use those specific words, it might be missed that we are talking about holiness and sanctification.
But I want you who grew up in church, you may know all the big christian words and how they are used, but consider how confusing it must be for someone who has not grown up in church.
Perhaps they hear “Sanctification” and “Holiness” and a confused look comes over their face. They might get afraid, frustrated, or both. Maybe that could even describe you today. Do you enjoy hearing about Sanctification and Holiness?
You wouldn’t need to worry if you were following his lead, living righteously because He constantly reveals that to you. Holiness. Life Guided by the spirit of God.
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty of what we believe about holiness and sanctification, Click the following link to
“Go and Sin No More”
I’m not sure how much clearer Jesus needed to be. This passage from John’s gospel lays out some basic things for us.
Sin exists and Judgment or consequences must follow sin and lawlessness
There is a moment in time where we must recognize right from wrong. For the Jews, their understanding was within the framework of the Old Testament. A later clarification for them came through the Mishnah – or the Jewish codified law. They knew adultery was wrong. They identified a law breaker, then they brought one of those lawbreakers to someone who might preside over the case against her – making sure justice was dispensed.
I’m sure it’s not lost on you that it takes two people to commit adultery. Where was the other party? We never hear.
Only someone truly righteous can judge (Jesus)
So the men bring this adulteress to Jesus. Jesus was leading and teaching the people. He had a reputation and they brought this case as though they respected him as a Rabbi who could preside over such things. Jesus, being the one they ask about this matter – takes his time in answering.
He stoops down and writes in the dirt using his finger. I’ve heard of theories concerning why he was writing – to give them more time to think through what they were asking and consider this demand. But the only one that seems to have roots in the scripture and its interpretation is the one about Jesus stooping down to write the sins of the accusers in the ground.
Perhaps you’ve heard it before, but never why someone drew that conclusion. Afterall, we are all guilty of filling in the blanks of scripture to help us make more sense of it. My concern is when those things become more gospel than the written word itself.
Back to the structural reason for this idea. William Barclay’s commentary on this says the normal word used in the greek New Testament for “To write” is graphein (a version of
γράφω which is used 191 times in the new testament.) The word that is used here in John 8:6 is katagrapho ( καταγράφω) ; this is the only place in the New Testament where it is used.
The prefix “kata” can have the implications of “against” so the meaning of the word can carry the implications that Jesus stooped down to write out something against someone.
That is where the conclusion gets drawn sometimes that it is the sins of the accusers that Jesus sketches in the dirt.
Now bringing us back into the story a bit, the men aren’t really seeking justice, they are trying to trap Jesus. Regardless, Jesus puts them in their place with a caveat for dispensing this justice. “Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.” They all leave, oldest to youngest. Jesus looks up and he’s alone with the woman.
10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
We’ve addressed that the accusers were not righteous. They were not sinless. They were no more qualified to dispense punishment on this woman than anyone else. Anyone but Jesus, and he chose to pardon her. Then…
The Righteous one says: “Go and sin no more.” “leave your life of sin.” Therefore, it MUST be possible to do so.
This brings me to what I teased at the start. The radio program that my wife heard, you might have as well. The speaker was talking about several topics and part of his talk was holiness and sanctification. As Jacki told me, the presentation he made was that John Wesley believed that “one could be sanctified in this life and could no longer sin.” I know of the philosophy of sanctification from which this idea is pulled, but I strongly disagree based on John Wesley’s own sermons that he ever believed or practiced such an understanding of Sanctification.
Now, I certainly have to have grace for this minister’s misunderstanding for two reasons.
One: You generally don’t fully understand or study a position that is completely opposite to your own. I’m fairly certain many teachings by John Calvin are lost on me because I can’t seem to get past other core tenets of Calvinism or the method through which they have been presented. (Sinners in the hand of an Angry God, anyone?)
The Second reason I would be gracious of his repeating this…shall I say, “Misunderstanding?” because it has been around awhile. It also has unfortunately been a misunderstanding that from time to time takes hold within the Church of the Nazarene.
I’m not sure, outside of a misunderstanding of Calvinism, why someone would believe not only that John Wesley believed and practiced this, but then logically all churches that fall in line and are influenced by his teachings.
One of the core teachings of the Church of the Nazarene is mankind’s Free Agency, or ability to choose right or wrong. The problem we face is prior to the time when we confess our sins, ask for forgiveness and call upon and trust in Jesus for our Salvation, we’ve got a heart that’s bent toward sinful desires.
In fact the only way we can do right is because of God working ahead of us (Prevenient Grace) enabling us to do so. More importantly, His grace enables us to even accept His Salvation.
All that out there on the table, let me just summarize what we do believe.
Holiness begins at Regeneration. – Regeneration meaning that new-life, Fresh Start, in Jesus Christ. We are being made alive. We are made and are being made in a right relationship with God. It’s a moment and a process. And because of Jesus we stand holy before God. – the word used would be Justified.
So holiness begins at regeneration, God continues to cleanse our hearts through the Holy Spirit and continues on through the life of the believer to glorification.
It starts at or after salvation, continues on as the Holy Spirit pokes and prod, shapes and mold you and I to be more and more like Christ. It’s a work of God, not man. But…
Here’s the lynch pin: Free Will. Just because God has forgiven my sin, I desire to live for him and be guided by the Holy Spirit…doesn’t mean I can’t choose to sin.
It’s certainly not as likely as before, but it is possible.
That original bent to sin is gone upon entire sanctification, but our ability to choose- even choosing wrong over right is part of the human experience. It is Free Will. To Love God with all that we have, or to not Love him with all that we have. We always have the choice.
We trust our will to the Holy Spirit, Follow the Spirit’s lead and listen to its guidance.
We live out the holy life and by the power of the Spirit, we can say NO to sin.
We can say YES to the things of God. That’s holiness. That’s the sanctified life. It starts in a moment in time. It continues as a believer grows in grace. It shows itself as we live out the will of God. As we love our neighbor. Love one another.
Just incase my clarifications muddied the waters, here is a direct quote from
“The Articles of Faith small group bible study”
“Entire Sanctification, then, is a divine work that instantaneously by faith brings freedom or cleansing from original sin, assurance through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, who empowers for service, and entire devotement to God.”
This brings us back to the woman caught in sin.
Go. Leave your life of sin. Go and sin no more.
Jesus is not asking. Not suggesting. The word here is used in the imperative. That means He’s commanding it.
And Jesus makes it possible. He pardons the woman of her sin, though he, being sinless, could have cast the first stone. He forgives and commands her to repent and live a life free from the trappings of sin.
He calls you and me to this same life. A Holy life.
And he provides the way to live it out, one fully devoted to Him and filled with the Holy Spirit.
For More information on the beliefs of the Church of the Nazarene, please check out our manual. (https://2017.manual.nazarene.org)